The rainy season, the time Costa Ricans call winter, is almost here.
The Instituto Meteorológico Nacional said Thursday that the season will arrive in the south Pacific between April 1 and 5. Then the season will move north and into the central Pacific between April 26 and 30. The Central Valley will undergo the seasonal change sometime between May 6 and 10, which the north Pacific will see this happen between May 15 and 20.
Rains are expected to be a little bit above average until June and then there will be less until the whole country experiences below average amounts, said the weather institute.
Over all rainfall is expected to be about 15 to 20 percent below average in the north Pacific, the Central Valley and the southern Caribbean. In the rest of the country, the weather institute expected totals to be about 10 percent less than average.
This may sound good for those who enjoy afternoons without thunderstorms, but Guanacaste and the Caribbean have been getting less than average rain for at least two years, and the impact on agriculture and the water table has been significant. In addition, much of the country’s electricity comes from hydro plants. Without rain, more expensive oil fired generators will have to be used.
As with all weather predictions, these are tentative estimates. The institute also said that the number of tropical storms and hurricanes would be less than average. From 1995 to last year, the country averaged about 15 such storms a year. This year the prediction is for from 10 to 13 storms, said the institute. Last year also saw below average Atlantic storms.
The Atlantic hurricane season begins June 1. In the Pacific the starting date is considered to be May 15.
The predictions from the prestigious Colorado State University are not due until April 10, the hurricane center there said.
A lot depends on the water conditions in the far Pacific. When the water is warmer, the condition is called El Niño. Cooler conditions are called La Niña. Right now, the conditions are neutral.
The institute predicted a slow progression to the El Niño state as the year progresses.
The Atlantic Ocean, which also has a heavy influence on the weather is about a degree cooler than it was at this time last year. That suggests lower storm activity, the institute said.
Although hurricanes almost never pass over Costa Rica, the backlash can be devastating. So the Comisión Nacional de Prevención de Riesgos y Atención de Emergencias said Thursday that it is investing about $89 million to prepare for disasters.
Among other efforts, monitoring systems for rivers are being improved. And there are more warehouses being built to hold emergency supplies in parts of the country distant from the Central Valley. The commission usually is charged with providing immediate aid in case of flooding and also in repairing whatever damage takes place.